Noise complaints over Olympic Plaza concerts persist

Village condo owner wants compensation from RMOW for concert, playground noise

A longtime Whistler property owner is fed up with the level of noise and frequency of concerts at Olympic Plaza near her suite, and wants compensation from the municipality for her troubles.

Gloria Dommer has owned a condominium in Marketplace Lodge since 1999, years before the construction of Olympic Plaza and the playground adjacent to her suite. Dommer and her family come from Vancouver to spend nearly three months in the resort each year, and she said the constant late-night noise from concerts and bar patrons using the playground after-hours has led her to voice her concerns.

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"You kind of understand that (on the weekend) there's going to be concerts, but why do we need them every weekend? Last summer it was about every second weekend so you knew you'd have a little bit of relief," Dommer said. "I don't know why it's necessary to pump (Olympic Plaza) full of music every night. I don't know why we're paying for those bands. It's too much icing on the cake, we only need a little icing, we don't need a whole pile. It's greedy."

A municipal bylaw prohibits amplified music or speech in any Whistler neighbourhood between the hours of 10 p.m. and 8 a.m.

Dommer has brought her concerns to Municipal Hall in years past, and recently wrote a letter to council and the RMOW's Resort Experience department asking for staff to notify occupants of Marketplace Lodge and Tyndall Lodge of private functions at Olympic Plaza, something manager of Village events and animation Bob Andrea said in a response letter he would discuss with staff.

The municipality confirmed that two private parties were held at the site last week, the only ones scheduled so far for this year. Dommer's letter was the only one received by the municipality in 2013 expressing concerns with concerts at Olympic Plaza, said Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden.

"There's no notice and no compensation," said Dommer. "If Whistler's going to do this every summer I want soundproof windows, I want some air conditioning - I'm roasting in here, it's summer. I don't think it's out of the question. I might get a quote for windows and air conditioning and draft up a letter (to the RMOW) and say 'Make me happy.'"

Wilhelm-Morden, who also issued a letter to Dommer in response, said on Tuesday (July 23) that the municipality would not be providing compensation.

"If you are living in a condominium in the middle of a resort village, noise is part of what goes on. There's some good and some bad, the good news is you have a front row seat, the bad is there's some noise issues," she said. "We haven't completed the whole year of programming but the indicators are so far that we've increased occupancy levels and we're getting very positive feedback from guests about the concerts that they've been experiencing."

Though Dommer is the only person who has registered a complaint about the concerts this year, it's not the first time the municipality has heard concerns about them. The RMOW released a study in September that looked at concert sound levels at Olympic Plaza after a number of complaints were received in the summer of 2011.

Several measures were taken in 2012 to mitigate concert sound levels, including using a smaller PA system, reducing concert music volume levels, rearranging speakers to concentrate sound to the Great Lawn, shortening the length of concerts and adjusting concert times to finish by 10 p.m.

Dommer said she has approached the stratas at Marketplace and Tyndall Lodge to voice her concerns, but representatives have expressed little interest in "stirring the pot," she said.

"I feel like I'm all alone. There's no support, just 'Shut up and pay your property tax, give me your pillow tax and we're going to spend it on parties in the plaza here.' I feel like packing up my kids, taking them home to Vancouver and finding another resort to invest in. I love it here, but I don't love it here at night time," said Dommer, who listed her property for sale on Saturday (July 20).

She's now considering contacting other property owners near Olympic Plaza to see if there's any interest in taking group action against the RMOW to seek compensation.

Also of issue for Dommer is the noise from late-night users of the Village playground, which she said often keeps her and her family awake well into the night after patrons exit the bars at closing time.

"They're hurling their 200-pound bodies down that roller slide. Do you know what that sounds like? Like a freight train running through your living room," said Dommer, who wants the playground re-located and recently spoke with Whistler RCMP Sgt. Rob Knapton about her concerns.

"It's one of those things that we deal with as we can, but at the end of the day noise is primarily a bylaw issue," said Knapton. "Those are things that we work on as we can in conjunction with our regular duties, but it's not our prime area of concern or mandate."

Half of the Whistler detachment's members patrol the Stroll on Friday and Saturday nights, said Knapton.

The RMOW has also hired private security guards for weekend evenings "specifically to keep noise down on the playground and to get the people who have had too much to drink to keep their voices down," Wilhelm-Morden said.

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